Nowata dairy farmer and pipe liner John A. Shanklin, a beloved husband, father, grandfather, neighbor and friend passed away on July 17, 2020, at the age of 95 peacefully at his home. He was born in Shady Grove, Texas, on the family farm to Robert Spain and Alice May (Barton) Shanklin. At the young age of 15, John stopped attending Grand Prairie Middle School in order to support the family due to the death of his father. John was immediately given his first job by a local dairy farmer where they would milk over 600 cows by hand in shift work. John’s next opportunity came when the local general store owner’s son who was known by the locals as “One-Arm Maxwell” offered him a job working for Williams Brother’s Pipeline.
In 1944, John was drafted by the US Army and was assigned to the 42nd Rainbow Division. After basic training, they boarded a ship in New York Harbor, and he remembers seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time in his life as the troop transport ship embarked on their journey to Europe. He was proud of the $75.00 he earned each month and lovingly mailed it home to take care of his mom and siblings.
In 1950, John began working for Interprovincial Pipeline Company as a side boom operator in Kipling, Saskatchewan, where he met a cute dental assistant, who would become the love of his life. After three long months, John finally had won the heart of Mavis Irene Rose Farkas. John and Mavis were wed on October 9, 1950, in Plunkett, Saskatchewan, on the Canadian Thanksgiving.
The honeymooners made their way to the U.S. border where they would embark on their new life together. At the Port of Entry, it was announced that Mavis would not be joining her husband due to an error in her passport papers. She was escorted onto a train and traveled back home, and John went on to work in Pennsylvania.
The next two years, John and Mavis traveled all over North America for his pipeline work and found themselves in Brockville, Ontario, in 1952. Two weeks later, they welcomed their first child, Sherman Earl Shanklin. Fifteen months later, pipelining took them to Dallas, Texas, where they were blessed with their second child, Deborah Irene.
It was only fair if one child was born in Canada, that the other must be born in Texas.
John had always dreamed of owning a farm and in 1956, utilizing the United Farm Country Catalog, they made that dream a reality. A smooth-talking Claremore real estate agent introduced them to an established farmstead in Watova, Oklahoma. At first sight, John knew this was the farm for him. Unfortunately, three short years later the entire farmstead was wiped out by a tornado.
John’s dreams of farming were briefly shattered when Mavis refused to indulge his prairie lifestyle. With his huge work ethic and get it done attitude, tirelessly pipelining all over the world, John got a second chance at his dream. In 1962, he purchased 320 acres east of Watova to run cow/calf pairs. In 1967, an opportunity to no longer pipeline and to stay at home with a steady income presented itself in the form of a dairy farm in Delaware, Oklahoma. John was not intimidated by the new challenge because of the time he has spent milking cows as a young boy. John successfully ran a Grade A dairy selling milk to AMPI from 1974 to 1994. After being trampled by one of his bulls and then surviving a horrendous highway tractor collision, John made the difficult decision to leave the dairy industry. The family remembers watching John hug each cow individually as his herd was dispersed.
John would acquire his next farm west of Watova and within a few years he settled in on what would be his final farm south of Nowata where he enjoyed checking his cattle, treating the numerous feral cats to Mavis’s home cooked scraps and spending tranquil hours sipping coffee in his iconic sugar shack.
Those who had the pleasure of being a part of John’s life would describe him as a simple man, kind-hearted, sharp minded, full of stories, the best hugger, a good neighbor and a great friend.
Preceding John Shanklin in death are his parents, Robert and Alice Shanklin, brothers Artie Lee, Woodrow, Oran Lee, Billy and two baby boys. Sisters Ethel Maxwell, Lorena Tolle, Juanita ‘Gal’ Eastwood, Barbara Bond and Jo Ann Stewart.
Survivors include his wife Mavis; son Sherman Shanklin and his wife Brenda of Nowata, Debby and her husband John Driggers of Mount Dora, Florida; three grandchildren, Carly, Trevor and his wife Leslie, and Corbin and his wife Chelsea; four great-grandchildren Bryleigh, Breckynn, Berlynne and Brooks.
John was a member of the Freemasons, the American Legion and The First Presbyterian Church of Nowata.
Services for John A. Shanklin will be held at 10:00 am, Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at the First Presbyterian Church of Nowata with Kevin Holdridge officiating. Services are under the direction of Benjamin Funeral Service of Nowata. Online condolences may be left at www.honoringmemories.com or see our Facebook page.
In Lieu of flowers donations can be made to Bartlesville Blue Star Mothers OK19.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John Avan Shanklin, please visit our floral store.